Posts Tagged politics

Social media on a local scale

One of the most important things about social media in the political realm is that it allows people to connect on a local level.  Even when a politician is traveling, they can access social media platforms on their phones and laptops.  Even when time is tight, they can quickly send a tweet or share an article via a blog post on the fly.  On a local level, the low cost/barrier of entry is a great opportunity for politicians.

This opportunity for direct connections is a brand new concept— one that allows politician and constituent communications like never before.

Josh Sternberg’s 2009 Mashable article How Local Politicians Are Using Social Media gives many great examples of this, with the emphasis that “ultimately, the strongest aspect of social media is the human element.”  The power of social media is that it can bring together people who would not otherwise be able to connect, with much less effort and money than other initiatives.

I think that what the Mashable article demonstrates is the importance of being where the people are.  Determining the platforms that your audiences use is essential to reach them.  Only the very dedicated would actually join a social media platform dedicated to a specific politician or political issue, but if a politician is able to join platforms like Twitter and Facebook where their audiences are already active, they can easily communicate with them.

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Thoughts on the digitally networked campaign

After reading Dr. Rosenblatt’s blog series on the dimensions of a digitally networked campaign, I’ve pulled one key takeaway from each dimension:

1-D: ”The receiver increasingly is choosing the channel for getting their messages, whether they are political or personal.” 

Takeaway:  Presence across multiple online platforms is essential to maximize the extent to which you reach your audiences.  Presenting a consistent, platform-appropriate message across an array of platforms can help to ensure that you reach the audience where they want to be reached.

2-D: ”Delivering opportunities for online citizens to take action is not only desirable and necessary for campaigns to be successful; it is expected by voters.”

Takeaway: Without a clear “ask,” you could miss an opportunity to gain something from your audience.  They expect to be asked for information, insight, and even money in communications with a campaign.

3-D: ”Rather than viewing them as message receptacles and followers to organize, campaigns have to treat supporters as strategic partners.”

Takeaway: Engaging in two-way (or three-way!) conversations with the audience is the best way to energize the base— instead of shouting at them through one-way communication, engage them in a dialogue.

The contents of Online Politics 101 only further supported these takeaways.  On page 4, Delaney emphasizes the importance of considering every digital channel, but focusing on where your audiences are.  For example, on page 19, he notes that the over-30 demographic is more responsive to email blasts, while the younger group is more responsive to social networks like Facebook.  Considering an audience’s preferences is crucial when communicating with them.

Knowing your audience, however; goes beyond just knowing what platforms they prefer.  It requires knowing how they interact with content.  For example, do they want to just read something?  Or do they want to interact with content by taking a survey or filling out a questionnaire?  Or do they want to take it a step further and create their own content to supplement the “official” content?  This all loops back to the 3 dimensions of campaigns that Dr. Rosenblatt points out.

And to take it to another level, what will they be using to access their preferred platforms?  If it’s their mobile phone, Twitter might be an ideal platform.  If it’s a laptop, desktop, PC or Mac, iPad, or another device, maybe they’ll prefer other platforms.  To really know the audience is what unlocks the power in social media— after all, it’s not the amount of followers or friends you have, it’s the relationships you cultivate with those individuals that count.

Peppered throughout are examples of the benefits that a campaign can reap when they treat supports as strategic partners.  For example, on page 32 Ned Lamont’s 2006 campaign is highlighted as it let supporters upload video clips directly to the website, where they could then share to perpetuate the message.

Overall, digital media channels present an array of opportunities to campaigns.  What’s crucial is that these channels be integrated as tactics into an overall strategy that forges relationships with new supports while strengthening relationships with existing reporters.

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